We tested the scorching C-V8, the predecessor to the Jensen Interceptor, in its MkII form with a 6.3-litre Chrysler V8 under the bonnet
Jensen is best remembered for the deft Jensen-Healy and the stunning Interceptor.
But what of the car that came before that Carrozzeria-designed grand tourer of 1966, the speedy Jensen C-V8?
Launched in 1962, the divisively styled C-V8 was originally powered by a 5.9-litre Chrysler V8 coupled to a three-speed automatic gearbox.
The MkII was introduced in 1963, and it was this model that Autocar road-tested on 16 April 1965, with the new 6.3-litre Chrysler V8 under the bonnet, pumping 330bhp and 425lb ft to the rear wheels.
“Big though its engine may have seemed, and as fast as it was, the previous C-V8 is left somewhat in the shade by this latest model,” we said.
Indeed, it was one of the world’s fastest cars at the time with a top speed of 130mph. The bigger engine could push the car to 110mph in 22.4sec, whereas the 5.9-litre unit had taken the same time to get the C-V8 up to 100mph.
“Just as impressive as the sheer performance is the sensitive response to the throttle,” we praised, going on to compliment its smoothness and ease of driving in the city.
We also found the standard automatic transmission (a four-speed manual was a £100 option) to “suit the car very well” – and never needed to be overridden.
We also tried a manual version of the C-V8, and although we found its shift to be positive and quick, the automatic was beyond reach in a race.
The Dunlop brakes of the C-V8 we’d tested in 1963 remained, but we found them to “not be as efficient and requiring heavier presses of the pedal”. The handbrake also proved insufficient for parking on a ¼ slope.
“At low speeds, considerable arm work is needed for the high-geared rack-and-pinion steering, and quite a lot of shock comes back if a front wheel hits a manhole cover,” we commented.
However, the steering was still precise, while the car itself was “extremely well balanced for cornering,” with a bias towards understeer. The C-V8 was therefore predictable and easily manageable. The suspension was firm yet comfortable.
This was a “man’s car” due to its “rather heavy controls”, we reckoned, but we enjoyed its “Jekyll and Hyde character” of easy stride and comfortable stability in regular driving, yet excellence when you “take everything it can give”. Such a character, we said, spawned from its “unusual tractability and mechanical refinement”.
On the road, fuel economy was low, as would be expected – 16mpg was our best at a gentle cruise.
Refinement on the road was very commendable, with an “exceptional” lowness of wind noise – unless you opened the front vents, which would then create a “loud shriek”. In fact, the Jensen “holds 110mph with complete ease and in deceptively restful silence.”
The Jensen’s “unusually complete specification” impressed us immensely. “Few cars, even many dearer, come as fully equipped,” we beamed. Luxuries included a Motorola radio with twin speakers in the rear, a woodrim steering wheel, and Britax seatbelts in the front.
Overall, the minor improvements made we found to be valid, and we felt that the West Bromwich GT stacked up most competently against its rivals, which included the Aston Martin DB5, Ford Galaxie and Gordon-Keeble.